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Is Waytha good for Pakatan?

 | December 6, 2017

Many opposition supporters don't trust him, but some think Hindraf can help the coalition win GE14.

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Should Pakatan Harapan accept Hindraf into its fold? The answer should depend on what Pakatan supporters think, and the coalition, for once, should consult them through a rigorous survey.

Anyhow, it would be fair to say that most people, when they think of Hindraf, would associate the movement with P Waythamoorthy, its leader and public face. And we wouldn’t be too wrong to say that many opposition supporters don’t trust him because of what he did before the 13th general election.

Ten years ago, Waythamoorthy rode high on the tide of public sympathy for the plight of the marginalised Indians. Hindraf was a cause célèbre. A rally it organised saw tens of thousands of Malaysians, mainly Indians, protesting at the Petronas Twin Towers and bringing much needed awareness to the plight of Malaysia’s downtrodden community.

These were the Indians who were turfed out of the estates when the GLCs took over. They were forced to live in shanty towns, without adequate water, electricity, medical care, housing amenities or educational facilities for the children.

Support for the rally was strongest at the grassroots level. The poor and wretched, the people who felt that Hindraf gave them hope, donated whatever money they had for the cause. In many cases, they gave their last RM1.
With the police at his heels, Waythamoorthy sought refuge in England, but his brother, P Uthayakumar, decided to remain to fight Barisan Nasional. He was jailed.

Five years later, Waythamoorthy returned to Malaysia via Singapore, where his Malaysian passport was processed. He then crossed the causeway to where thousands of his supporters were waiting to give him a roaring welcome.
Some people were suspicious over the ease with which he got his passport processed and his unimpeded entry into Malaysia. But others didn’t think much of it.

The suspicious among us felt our fears were confirmed when Waythamoorthy rebuffed the opposition coalition’s attempts to woo him and instead had a much publicised meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Indeed, he allowed himself to be coerced into teaming up with Najib, despite having spent years denouncing the government for failing the Indians.

Instead of gaining additional support for Hindraf, Waythamoorthy was treated with contempt. He was branded an opportunist.

But then again, some people may see his action as evidence of a single-minded dedication to his cause. He may have been naïve in trusting Najib, but he was determined to get what he thought the marginalised Indians needed. When he realised that Najib would not deliver on his promises, he promptly dissociated himself from the government.

Nevertheless, much has changed since. Some opposition supporters are uncomfortable with Waythamoorthy’s brand of politics, which they see as racist. If Umno is denounced for its race-based policies, why does Waythamoorthy champion only Indian causes?

Other opposition supporters cannot forgive Waythamoorthy for instructing Hindraf supporters to abstain from voting in GE13.

However, there are those who think that Hindraf’s membership of Pakatan will boost the coalition’s chances of winning GE14.

So, if you’re Pakatan supporter, what do you think? Should Hindraf be allowed to join the coalition?

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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